The James Irvine Foundation has granted the University of California Riverside’s Office of Technology Partnerships (OTP) a $1.9 million grant to help the university’s efforts to create a more inclusive and equitable technology innovation environment get off the ground.
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Advancement of the Inland Empire
The OASIS Accelerator strives to increase possibilities for Inland Empire innovators and entrepreneurs, especially those from marginalized groups, to establish high-impact sustainability and climate technology firms. The initiative will address the structural problems that technology-driven innovation and entrepreneurship confront in the region, as indicated by the underrepresentation of underrepresented populations in STEM professions and a shortage of venture capital investment.
The investment tackles the core problems of the underrepresentation of disadvantaged groups in technology-based business formation by focusing on exposure and skills transfer. Participants representing K-12 through K-16 institutions from the region will receive instruction on the use of cutting-edge technology and tools in controlled environment agriculture and modern plant propagation techniques, air quality monitoring, and sustainable freight through a series of online and hands-on experiential workshops and laboratory sessions delivered by UCR faculty, community experts, and entrepreneurs from the UCR EPIC SBDC.
Perks of the Initiative
All participants will get training and specialized mentoring in the fundamentals of technology commercialization, startup formation, and capital access. The initiative seeks to involve over 120 high school graduates from underprivileged neighborhoods and over 200 community college and four-year college students over the following two years.
Participants who complete the courses and community entrepreneurs who wish to start high-impact, sustainable firms in the Inland Empire will be eligible for prototype development and pilot testing funding.
The OASIS Accelerator is the result of valuable collaborations with partners such as the University of California at Riverside’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), the University of California at Riverside’s Plant Transformation Research Center (PTRC), UCR Extension, the Riverside Community College District (RCCD), the Black and Brown Collective, and the Growing Hope Project, among others. This regional program is also made possible by federal and private financing and assistance.
“We are grateful to the Irvine Foundation for its generous support that will allow us to create a pipeline of sustainability-focused technology startups launched by a racially and gender diverse pool of Inland Empire entrepreneurs,” said Rosibel Ochoa, associate vice chancellor of technology partnerships at UCR and program director. “Based on our experience of five years working with high-tech entrepreneurs in the region, we are confident that this robust pipeline of sustainable, diverse startups will also attract investment capital and lead to the creation of good quality jobs for our community.”
Once the program is wholly constructed, the objective is to spread the platform to additional areas of development and demand, such as sustainable energy generation and accessible health care.
One of the programmatic parts of the OASIS Innovation Hub is the OASIS Accelerator. OASIS, or Opportunity to Advance Sustainability Innovation and Social Inclusion, is a public-private collaboration founded by UCR to stimulate regional economic growth in the Inland Empire via research translation, entrepreneurship, and workforce development.
The OASIS Innovation Hub includes a cleantech park and the establishment of an Agriculture Innovation Center in collaboration with the Riverside Food Systems Alliance and the City of Riverside.